BAKERSFIELD - A local organization is launching a new anti-bullying program that aims to educate both teens and parents about the growing problem that has gone from school playgrounds to cyber space.
Community leaders are sharing prevention strategies to help young people better understand bullying and its consequences. They're also building their self-esteems and teaching teens that it's okay to be themselves.
Joshua Villarruel is a gang violence prevention specialist for ebony counseling and says bullying is everywhere.
"You have a lot of video games that promote violence. You have a lot of movies that promote violence and of course music, a lot of music that's the big thing right now and a lot of music talks about violence, talks about murder, talks about death," he said.
To help combat the problem, Villarruel speaks to area youth on a regular basis, teaching them techniques to deal with school bullies.
"We have a lot of kids now-a-days, they don't think before they act, you know. So, we want them to think clearly even before they speak," he said.
Group leaders say technology and the popularity of social media sites have made it easier for young people to fall victims of bullying.
"Not only are they able to physically bully each other and intimate others at the school site or where they hang out, but they are also able to follow each other on the social network and continue to bullying," said William Haywood with Ebony Counseling Center.
Bullying in all its forms is an issue that has become too familiar with many young people around the community.
"When someone bullies another, they would bully them back and that's not right," said Serenas Encinas, 9, of Bakersfield.
"People text people mean things, hurtful things that makes them want to do things to themselves," said Kyrain Paterson, 14, of Bakersfield.
Counselors are hoping the anti-bullying project can promote kindness and provide student peer support.
“To respect each other and to respect all and to get that they should be proud to be themselves and to help others be themselves," said Haywood.
The on-going class takes place every Saturday starting this weekend at the Ebony Counseling Center and includes educational field trips that promotes respect and tolerance for different backgrounds.